Eruption from September 11 to 18, 2016
On an unforgetable Sunday morning, the day of the eruption, I was on my way to flight over Reunion Island with my friends from Corail Hélicoptère.
During the flight, I learned that the Piton de la Fournaise had erupted less than an hour before.
A sign from the Fate ?? Maybe …
Less than two hours after the beginning of the eruption, we were flying over the zone.
My impressions (of what I witnessed) are extraordinaryes
The break is huge : several hundredth meters long. The break is located parallel to the eruption which is very close to the one that occurred in August 2016.
Several eruptive cones were already forming and the lava fountains climbed more than 50 meters high in the air. The lava flows were already very long.
Back to the Pierrefonds airport, I didn’t want to lose any time and went back home to prepare my stuff for the nocturnal hike, which awaited me.
It was 18 :00 when I arrived to the « Plaine des Sables ». It was the ” blue hour “
The sky was beautiful and I was impatient to discover the eruption from the Pas de Bellecombe point of view.
I walked – wait, what am I saying? I ran from the Foc Foc parking lot with my well loaded backpack containing all the essentials: camera, lenses, tripod, gas mask, warm clothes, tent, food… in all I carried 28 kgs on my back.
I prepared myself mentally and physically to spend a large part of the night as close as possible to the eruption.
The best moment
That’s it ! I finally saw it … and I arrived at the best moment, just before nightfall. I already smelled sulfur in the atmosphere which reminded me some good memories.
As soon as dusk ended, I began the descent in the Enclos Fouqué to arrive in the caldeira where the clouds had settled in.
Henceforward I was on the trail leading to the Kapor crater formed during the 1998 eruption.
The walking was short -about 45 minutes of false dish descending.
The morning flight in helicopter I took served as reconnaissance, so, I knew that this trail would lead me as close as possible to the most active eruptive mouths. Such a thing is essential to make a lonely approach during night time.
That’s it ! The white marks of the trail disapeared under the still warm morning lava flows. The wind was against me, I took a breath of warm air loaded with sulfur.
Upon taking the breath, the sulfer came in contact with the mucous membranes and was transformed into sulfuric acid which resulted in my throat and my nose burning. The gas mask was now necessary.
The aa lava ahead of me was about 2 meters high. I could have climbed on it to go even closer but I decided to be careful and I went back up walking along the flow on its right side.
To capture a few pictures, I stopped a few minutes where I saw some little glowing breaks.
It was an excellent first plan which will provide some depth to the picture. In the background, the line of break and the lava fountains were well visible.
Because the sulfuric acid and the warmth of the lava flows dried out my throat, I drank a lot of water. I wasn’t sure if the 4 liters of water that I packed would be enough.
It was already 22:00. It was now 3 hours that I have been on the front rows of this magnificent eruption of the Piton de la Fournaise.
It wasn’t my first eruption, but this incredible shows still fascinates me today.
With the rumbling of the volcano, its warmth and the smell of sulfur for atmosphere, one can only be impressed in front such a power, in front of the majesty of this apocalyptic landscape (that nature provides)…
I decided to climb up even higher along the very young flow. I was careful because the break line went high upstream and a new flow could arrive at any moment.